Nutrient Management Planning – Dairy focus
The dairy industry is amongst the highest nutrient fluxes (inflows and outflows) for any agricultural production system and therefore has relatively low nutrient use efficiencies. The ongoing intensification of the industry also means these nutrient fluxes are continuing to increase per hectare, increasing both the reliance on imported feed and Nitrogen fertiliser use.
To assist agronomists and fertiliser advisers in this industry, Agriculture Victoria and Fertcare recently delivered workshops across all the major Victorian dairy regions. The workshops stressed the importance of farmers having a nutrient management plan that is friendly and understandable, do-able, with clear guidance, benchmarked performance, and needs to be frequently updated.
Farming is a business and fertiliser use efficiency is an important parameter from both a business perspective to ensure it is used efficiently particularly given skyrocketing prices, and environmentally so as not to pollute and degrade the land or waterways.
Based on a study conducted on a range of dairy farms, average fertiliser use efficiency was Nitrogen 26%, Phosphorus 26% and Potassium 20%. Also of interest in the study was the correlation between nitrogen use efficiency and stocking rates. With an increase in stocking rates, nitrogen use efficiency decreases.
Farmers are the custodians of their soil and environment, and therefore carry the responsibility of taking care of these living assets. Fertcare provide a useful 5-Step Program to help farmers evaluate their fertiliser on-farm nutrient management program:
1. Know what to look for
2. Evaluate current practices
3. Consider the environmental context
4. Prioritise the nutrient management risks
5. Identify Best Management Practice
The BioAg team can help dairy farmers in any region prepare their nutrient management plans to improve their pastures and maximise fertiliser efficiencies whilst reducing input costs. BioAg supplies sustained release P fertilisers providing improved use efficiency and reduced losses.